A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 29, 2019
Gay Paree

Paris is often called “Gay Paree,” with “gay” meaning happy, joyful and lively. The musical Can-Can (1953), with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, included the song “Who said Gay Paree?” The movie Victor/Victoria (1982) included the song “Gay Paree,” sung by Robert Preston and with music by Henry Mancini.

“Makes Brussels nearly as gay as Paris” was printed in The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia, PA) on September 24, 1785. “The pink of gay Paris” was printed in The Public Advertiser (London, UK) on September 6, 1790.

“Paree” is the French pronunciation of “Paris.” The Oxford English Dictionary records “Paree” in English since at least 1697.

“Th’accomplish’d, gay Paree!” (referring to Annette Paree) was printed in the book Heath Flowers, Or, Mountain Melodies (1820) by George Scott. “You (Mark Twain—ed.) have been, we’re informed, in gay Paree” was printed in the New York City humor magazine Puck on September 3, 1879.

This short poem was printed in Jingo (Boston, MA) on November 19, 1884, and reprinted in many newspapers:

“Now, the maid whose name was Mary,
Cometh home from gay ‘Paree,’
Circumflex her accents,—very!
And she calls herself Marie.”


The term “gay Paree” soon appeared in many newspapers, books, plays and songs. The homosexual implications of “gay Paree” have been popular since at least the 1970s.

“Gay Greenwich Village” is a similar term.


Wikipedia: Paris
Paris (French pronunciation: ​[paʁi]) is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres (41 square miles) and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019.  Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe’s major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €681 billion (US$850 billion) in 2016, accounting for 31 percent of the GDP of France, and was the 5th largest region by GDP in the world.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
Paree, n.
Etymology: Representing a French pronunciation of Paris (see Paris n.).
colloquial.
Paris. Esp. in gay Paree.
1697 E. Settle World in Moon iv. i. 27 Hayns. Nay, as simple as I stand here, this very Machine came over from France. N. St. From France! Hayns. Alamode de Paree, I can assure ye.
1848 F. A. Durivage Stray Subj. 116 Walk in, gentlemen, and see the collection.., which beats the Zoological Gardens all holler, and can’t be come over by the Gardens des Plantys in Par-ee!
1892 Scribner’s Mag. May 645/2 It was only when I mentioned that I was going to Paris that Monsieur gave attention. ‘You go to Paree, Mademoiselle?’
1930 E. Waugh Labels 21 There are good young men saving up their money for a beano in ‘Gay Paree’.

24 September 1785, The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia, PA), pg. 2, col. 2:
The number of foreigners of all ranks drawn hither by the approaching sale of the treasures, found in the religious houses after their suppression by his Imperial majesty, makes Brussels nearly as gay as Paris, and certainly more so than London; ...

6 September 1790, The Public Advertiser (London, UK), pg. 2, col. 2:
The pink of gay Paris, their Pinks bought of me.

Google Books
Heath Flowers, Or, Mountain Melodies:
Amatory, Lyrical, and Romantic

By George Scott
Edinburgh, Scotland: Printed for the Author
1820
Pg. 58:
Hark!—“Heaven!—Perdition!—Help!” she cries,
A wretched suicide she dies!
And now a frightful ruin lies
Th’accomplish’d, gay Paree!
(Referring to Annette Paree.—ed.)

Chronicling America
1 January 1836, The Herald (New York, NY), pg. 2, col. 1:
He at length pack’d up his traps,
And, cursing the French, left gay Paris; ...

OCLC WorldCat record
The celebrated duett Parigi, o cara = Gay Paris, dearest : from La traviata, as sung by Parodi and Tiberini
Author: Giuseppe Verdi; Teresa Parodi; Mario Tiberini; Theodore T Barker
Publisher: Boston (Washington St., Boston) : Oliver Ditson, ©1856.
Edition/Format: Musical score : Italian : Original key
Genre/Form: Vocal scores with piano
Other Titles:
Traviata.
Parigi, o cara
Gay Paris, dearest
Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo
Gay Paris, dearest, we’ll leave with gladness

Google Books
Rosalette, or, The flower girl of Paris:
A romance of France

By Maturin Murray Ballou
Boston, MA: M.M. Ballou
1863
Pg. 3:
Gay Paris, the dissipated metropolis of France, is the locale of our story, the home of the proudest noblesse, and the most miserable canaille; of the most learned philosophers, and the shrewdest thieves; of the strictest police discipline, and of laws the most disregarded; the resort of all dissapated Europe, the centre of every extreme of life.

Google Books
Musical Echoes
A Collection of Popular Airs
Arranged without Octaves for the Piano

By C. Everest
(...)
38. GAY PARIS. (G. Verdi is also credited for this, so it is probably from La Traviata.—ed.)
Philadelphia, PA: Lee & Walker
1867

Google Books
3 September 1879, Puck (New York, NY), pg. 410, col. 1:
WELCOME!
WELCOME, Mark Twain, and welcome again!
You have been, we’re informed, in gay Paree,
And what you did there we would have you explain
(We don’t mean your works literary.)
(...)
LEO C. EVANS.

Google Books
19 November 1884, Jingo (Boston, MA), “Jingoes,” pg. 173, col. 1:
Now, the maid whose name was Mary,
Cometh home from gay “Paree,”
Circumflex her accents,—very!
And she calls herself Marie.

29 November 1884, The Daily Times and Dispatch (Reading, PA), “Bits of Humor,” pg. 3, col. 1:
Now, the maid whose name was Mary,
Cometh home from gay “Paree,”
Circumfix her accents—very!
And she calls herself Marie.

30 November 1884, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), “Smiles for the Unhappy,” pg. 14, col. 5:
Jingo:
Now, the maid whose name was Mary,
Cometh home from gay “Paree,”
Circumflex her accents—very!
And she calls herself Marie.

Chronicling America
27 November 1885, Weekly Commercial Herald (Vicksburg, MS), pg. 3, col. 6:
Mary’s New Designation.
[Jingo.]
Now, the maid whose name was Mary,
Cometh home from gay “Paree,”
Circumflex her accents—very!
And she calls herself Marie.

OCLC WorldCat record
Gay Paree
Author: E Jonghmans; Richard Morton; Charles Godfrey; H G Banks
Publisher: London : Francis, Day & Hunter, [1891]
Edition/Format: Musical score : English

OCLC WorldCat record
I’ve been to gay Paree : the great serio comic success
Author: Felix McGlennon; Tom Conley; Henry J Sayers
Publisher: 842-844 Broadway, New-York Willis Woodward & Co., [1893] ©1893
Edition/Format: Musical score : English

YouTube
Gay Paree by Eric The Cheeseman
Eric
Published on Feb 24, 2009
France...0 Scotland...1 .12th Sept 2007.  Paris. The mighty French, humped by the humble Scots. A law was since passed, forcing Scots everywhere to gloat like hell, with the statement..."GET IT RIGHT UP YE’....TREZE-GAY!”

Yahoo! Answers (January 5, 2010)
Why people call Paris “Gay Parie” ?
I found this expression on the chorus of the song “European Lover” from “Little Man Tate” and googling the term “Gay Parie” I only found links about people talking about their trip to Paris and a IMDB link to a U.S. film of 1919.
Does anyone know the origin of this expression?
Best Answer: The term “gay paree” comes from the original meaning of the word “gai” in French “happy” or “cheerful.” Thanks to artistic and social movements in fin-de-siecle (turn of the century) Paris, that city become world famous for social, artistic and sexual excess.

YouTube
Preselection ESC 1957 Belgium: Bobbejaan Schoepen - Een zomernacht in “gay paree”
mathiasehv
Published on Feb 12, 2010
‘de tv maakt muziek’ 19-2-1957. De preselectie voor het eurovisie songfestival 1957. De rode draad door het programma was een telefooncentrale waarin zoals hier een verbinding wordt gemaakt met Parijs. In de afgelopen 50 jaar is het woordje gay ín betekenis veranderd.
(17-5-2010 RIP)

YouTube
293. Who Said Gay Paree? (Can-Can, 1953)
Cole Porter Anthology
Published on Aug 1, 2014
» ‘Who Said Gay Paree?’
» Can-Can, 1953
Music and lyrics by Cole Porter
Performed by Wilfried Van den Brande & Dirk Baert
Cole Porter Session 14 at Rataplan
Sunday April 27, 2014

YouTube
Gay Paree - Robert Preston
WolfGirl04
Published on Nov 8, 2017
(From the 1982 film Victor/Victoria.—ed.)

YouTube
Family Guy - Gay Paree
Rodrigo Maydana
Published on Jul 5, 2018
Season 16, episode 13: V is for Mystery

Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesCity of Light or Ville Lumière (Paris, France nickname) • Saturday, June 29, 2019 • Permalink